This easy hunter’s chicken cecipe (also known as chicken cacciatore) combines juicy chicken and earthy mushrooms in a rich, aromatic tomato sauce. It makes for an irresistible one pot dinner the whole family will love!
We love hearty, comfort food recipes around here (I’m looking at you chicken and sausage with gnocchi).
So, today I’m sharing another comfort food recipe (which happens to be an all time favourite) – a delicious one pot, stick to ya ribs, warm ya belly, make your taste buds do a happy dance, chicken dinner.
Many years ago hubby and I would watch celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich’s show on PBS called Lidia’s Italy.
I swear, every time we would watch it, we were transfixed by the screen. The way should would describe her dishes, make them and then (always) have a little bite, would make us want to run into the kitchen and get cooking.
I guess that means it’s a good show, right 😉 ?
One of the recipes that she made was ‘hunter’s chicken’. We fell in love with it and it never disappoints. This is our rendition of it!
What is Hunter’s Chicken?
‘Hunter’s chicken’ or ‘hunter style chicken’ is basically a chicken cacciatore recipe. ‘Cacciatore’ means ‘hunter’ in Italian.
This Italian stew is not to be confused with the British hunter’s chicken recipe, which is totally different than Italian hunter’s chicken.
There are all sorts of variations of a hunter’s chicken recipe, some using different herbs, red versus white wine, maybe adding bell peppers and so on.
This hunter’s chicken, however, is super simple with the main components basically being chicken and mushrooms in a tomato sauce with aromatics and herbs. It’s essentially a chicken stew and oh so good!
How to Make Hunter’s Chicken
Full details are in the recipe card below, but here are the basics –
- Pat chicken dry, season well with salt and pepper and brown on both sides just to get a little colour. Remember, it’s definitely not cooked at this point, we’re just adding a little caramelly goodness to the party. Remove the chicken to a plate and lay to one side while you make the hunter’s chicken sauce.
- Deglaze those brown bits in the bottom of the pan with some white wine, scraping to get all that goodness.
- Add some diced onion and garlic and cook a little just to soften a tad.
- Next up to the party is sliced mushrooms, which are cooked a little.
- Stir in tomato paste and cook a bit.
- Add thyme, basil, rosemary and chili flakes (if using). Stir to incorporate.
- Stir in chicken broth.
- Canned tomatoes go next.
- Place reserved chicken (and any juices that have accumulated onto the plate) into the pot. Don’t throw away those flavour packed juices!
- Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to a medium low simmer, cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes (check on half way to ensure nothing is sticking).
- Remove cover and cook another 10 to 15 minutes or until sauce has reduced slightly and chicken is completely cooked through.
- Garnish with fresh thyme and parsley (optional) and enjoy!
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Type of Chicken to Use
Dark meat all the way! A combination of chicken thighs and legs was used in this recipe, but you could use one or the other if you prefer.
I don’t recommend using breast meat as it will dry out over the long cooking time. Dark meat is more flavourful, in my opinion, stays moist and works the best in stews like this.
I used 3 pounds of chicken in total, which was about 11 to 12 pieces (depending on how large your pieces are).
How to Brown Skinless Chicken Thighs (and Legs)
Yes, I removed the skin from the chicken. Unless I’m enjoying wings or fried chicken out somewhere, at home I always opt to remove skin. I like to save those calories for some crusty bread to go with, lol.
In all seriousness, though, I like to remove the skin because even if you do crisp it (and render out some fat), you are putting it back into a moist environment (aka tomato sauce) and it will get soggy again…and ain’t nobody got time for soggy skin.
So, to brown those skinless chicken thighs and legs –
- Pat chicken dry
- Season with salt and pepper
- Heat a large pot (I used an enameled cast iron pot) on medium high heat and add a good lug of olive oil (about 1.5 tablespoon)
- When oil is shimmering, add chicken and brown about 5 minutes, before turning to brown other side (the chicken is not cooked at this point)
Tip: Work in batches, so you don’t overcrowd pan and ‘sweat’ chicken instead of ‘browning’.
- Now that chicken has a little colour, it’s ready to be used in this chicken stew, continuing to cook in the tomato sauce
Chicken won’t ‘unstick’ from pan? Don’t fret! It will release when it’s ready! It may take longer than 5 minutes, depending on exactly how hot your temperature is.
Again, don’t fret!
Add a touch more oil and turn up the heat a smidge. It will release.
Want to totally skip browning the skinless chicken? No worries! Just cook a little longer in the tomato sauce until chicken is completely cooked through and juices run clear. According to the Government of Canada, the internal temperature at thickest part of poultry (not touching the bone) should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an instant read food thermometer to be sure, if you like.
Like mentioned above, if you want to skip browning of the chicken, that’s ok! Just cook chicken a little longer in the sauce until completely cooked through and the juices run clear.
Use a good quality can of tomatoes! It’s such a big part of this Italian stew so you want it to be good. I love ‘San Marzano’ tomatoes, but if you can’t get that, use another good one. Buy ‘whole’ peeled tomatoes and squish them with your hands before adding to the pot (or use a potato masher).
I deglazed with white wine, but you could totally use chicken stock/broth if you prefer.
Speaking of chicken broth, I used ‘unsalted’. If you use anything otherwise, taste before adding more seasoning.
Like things more spicy? Add more chili flakes. Prefer less? Omit or just add a pinch. I used 1/2 teaspoon of chili flakes and didn’t find this chicken stew to be too spicy at all. You do you!
Variations to this Chicken Stew Recipe
At the end of cook time, stir in some pitted black olives (you can slice if you prefer), about 1/3 cup or so.
You can also stir in some capers, about 3 tablespoons.
Rather deglaze with red wine? Go for it!
Only have canned mushrooms on hand? Drain and use. No need to sauté.
- Crusty bread (a must for dunking into that rich sauce)
- Creamy polenta
- Your fave pasta (rigatoni works lovely)
- A crisp green salad
- Garlicky green beans
- Smashed baby potatoes or roasted potatoes
- Roasted broccolini (from Barefoot Contessa)
More Comfort Food Recipes You May Enjoy
- Chicken, Sausage and Peppers in Tomato Sauce – This hearty comfort food dish includes chicken, sausage, peppers and baby potatoes. So delish, especially in the cooler months.
- Mushroom Risotto – With plenty of mushrooms, mushroom stock and fresh thyme, this scrumptious homemade risotto recipe is great for date night, Sunday supper or entertaining. with friends an family.
- Cheesy Baked Gnocchi Casserole – Super easy, comforting and on the table in a little more than half an hour.
Whether you call it ‘hunter’s chicken’, ‘chicken cacciatore’, ‘Italian stew’ or simply ‘chicken stew’, I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!
Until next time, take care and chit chat again soon,
Make this easy chicken cacciatore recipe? That’s awesome! Love it if you left a comment below. Many thanks!
Hunter’s Chicken Recipe (easy chicken cacciatore)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil , divided
- 3 pound chicken thighs and legs , bone in, skin removed (roughly 12 pieces)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt , divided
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper , divided
- 1/2 cup white wine (or unsalted chicken broth)
- 1 yellow onion , peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 227 grams mushrooms , sliced (about 1/2 pound)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (or to taste)
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock/broth
- 796 millilitre can whole peeled tomatoes (I used 'San Marzano')
- parsley , roughly chopped (garnish to taste, optional)
- thyme , roughly chopped (garnish to taste, optional)
- In a large pot (I used an enameled cast iron pot) on medium high heat add 1.5 tablespoons olive oil.
- Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and season with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. When oil is shimmering and working in TWO batches (each batch with 1.5 tablespoon of oil) cook chicken on both sides to get just a touch of colour. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes or until chicken easily releases from pan (no need to move around, chicken will release from pan with it's ready. ). Flip and cook another 3 to 5 minutes. Note: chicken is NOT cooked at this point, we are just trying to get a little colour. Brown second batch. Remove each batch when browned and lay to one side on a plate.
- Deglaze pan with wine, scraping up brown bits. Cook 1 to 2 minutes until wine is mostly evaporated.
- Reduce heat to medium and add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and cook onion and garlic, until onion has softened a little, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and cook 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook 2 minutes.
- Stir in thyme, basil, rosemary and chili flakes.
- Pour in stock, scraping bottom, if there are any brown bits.
- Crush whole tomatoes with your hands (or use a potato masher to break up) and pour into pot. Rinse can with a tiny bit of fresh water to get all that tomato sauce and pour into pot.
- Add chicken back to pan and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Bring to light simmer, cover (with lid just slightly ajar) and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, checking on half way to ensure it's not sticking.
- Remove cover and continue cook for another 10 to 15 minutes or so until sauce has thickened slightly/reduced to your liking and chicken is completely cooked through.
- Garnish with parsley and thyme (if desired). Enjoy!
- Like mentioned above, if you want to skip browning of the chicken, that’s ok! Just cook a little longer in the sauce until chicken is completely cooked through and the juices run clear.
- Use a good quality can of tomatoes.
- I deglazed with white wine, but you could use chicken stock/broth if you prefer.
- Speaking of chicken broth, I used ‘unsalted’. If you use anything otherwise, taste before adding more seasoning.
- Like things more spicy? Add more chili flakes. Prefer less? Omit or just add a pinch.
- More recipe tips and variations in body of post above.